Until now, students whose hard work throughout the quarter earned them a spot on the Dean’s List have been notified by mail. Their academic achievements will continue to be recognized with a letter, but the delivery method has changed. Beginning summer quarter 09, Dean’s List letters are delivered by e-mail, not by postal mail. Students receive a letter containing a link to a secure website (more on that below) where the letters can be viewed or saved in PDF format, so they can easily be printed if desired.
Why the change?
There are a few reasons for transitioning from physical to electronic letters. Financial responsibility is certainly one of them. The cost of paper, envelopes, printing and postage for the thousands of letters mailed each quarter adds up. Even in summer, the quarter with the least enrollment, there are typically about 1,200 to 1,500 Dean’s List students; that number can reach 8,000 or even 10,000 in autumn quarters. With each letter costing about 50 cents in postage and materials alone, going electronic saves a lot of money. Although sharing good news with our students and their families is a good reason to spend funds, in these tight fiscal times it’s prudent to save money wherever possible.
Also, today’s students are increasingly accustomed to electronic versions of documents: online bill payments and banking; e-mailed receipts for both online and in-store purchases; even some medical records have moved to the web. In this environment it makes sense to deliver notification of academic scholarship online, too. It’s worth noting that students who made the dean’s list and whose information-release status permit it are posted on the University’s website as well.
What about information security?
We’ve taken great care to ensure that this new process meets FERPA guidelines for protecting student data. The notification message, which is e-mailed to the student’s official UW-provided e-mail address, contains only a generic introduction, the student’s name, and a customized link. When following that link, the student must prove their identity by authenticating with their UW NetID before their letter is displayed.